THE British Chess Championships were unveiled to much applause yesterday when the tournament began at Bournemouth Pavilion.

It is the first time the event has been held in Bournemouth in 80 years and over 1,000 people are expected to take part - one of the highest attended chess-related events in the last 26 years.

Eleven grandmasters were expected to join - including World Championship finalist and former world number four Michael Adams - as well as seven international masters and 11 FIDE masters.

The free matches start at 2.30pm daily, for the next 12 days - except Sunday, July 31 - with a live internet link broadcasting all the chess games to the rest of the UK.

There are also a number of juniors taking part with categories for those from under eight to under 16.

Martin Simons, chairman of the Bournemouth and District Chess League, said: “The Bournemouth and District Chess League and Dorset County Chess Association are delighted to welcome the British Chess Championships back to Bournemouth. These were last held here 80 years ago in 1936 and we are proud and privileged that Bournemouth has been chosen by the English Chess Federation to celebrate this anniversary.

“The town has a lot to offer for a number of reasons, not least its free attractions for people of all ages ranging from its seven miles of golden sandy beaches, evening live bands and Friday night fireworks on the Bournemouth seafront to candlelight nights in the lower gardens - all within close proximity to the Pavilion.

“We wish the best of luck to Dorset’s local players competing across all events, especially the juniors playing in their first national event.

“This could be the last year when there is a two week format in place, so we are pleased to say that the entry number would suggest that we will be close to or could even better last year’s record entry and it is fantastic to have such strong support from most of the top British players in the championships this year.

“All that remains is for us to wish all entrants to the 103rd British Chess Championships an enjoyable and successful time, and hope those who are attending but not competing enjoy their time here in Bournemouth and all its attractions.”

Overall under-nine champion James Merriman was given the honour of playing the first move.